Inspired by the idea that the medium of fashion can be used as a tool to spread social awareness and unity, The Black Cotton Collection, developed by Justice Hall, is one of the lines you need to look out for in 2007. Fresh, intelligent, and satirical designs, commenting on the African-American experience dominate tees and sneakers in the first line. Format recently caught up with Justice who spoke with us about how the label got started, the inspirations behind the brand, upcoming projects, and plans for the future.
Format: Can you give our readers a rundown on who the members are behind the Black Cotton Collection?
Justice: I, myself, am the fashion and graphic designer; TTK, custom sneaker designer; Jahse on the photography; Mapack Mapis, African Activist; and Peter â€Petey Wheatâ€ Oakley assists with marketing.
Format: Where did the idea of the Black Cotton Collection start, and how did you all come together to finally bring this idea to life?
Justice: It started with my frustration of the success of these huge companies. Iâ€˜m tired of seeing brands making money of our culture. It’s ridiculous. I watched them go to the hood, take pictures of us, profile us in their power point presentations, joke and laugh about our heritage and lifestyle, but then will turn around and sell us their brand.
Whatâ€™s even more ridiculous is to see the people embrace these brands. I feel like Iâ€™m in a position to do something powerful to make a statement. So through my frustration and lack of originality in the fashion industry I birthed The Black Cotton. It was easy to come together because we are all artists fighting with bigger companies on a daily basis. It only made sense to come together and create something for ourselves.
“It started with my frustration of the success of these huge companies. Iâ€˜m tired of seeing brands making money of our culture. It’s ridiculous. I watched them go to the hood, take pictures of us, profile us in their power point presentations, joke and laugh about our heritage and lifestyle, but then will turn around and sell us their brand.”
Format: What does the Black Cotton Collection represent?
Justice: It represents art, fashion, and struggle in its purest form.
Format: Why did you choose fashion as the medium in which to express your ideas and messages?
Justice: Besides having a degree in fashion design, fashion, especially t-shirts, is one of the most effective ways to promote and advertise these days. Itâ€™s clearly a way to get or spread messages to the masses very quickly.
Format: Are there plans of expanding to other media in the future?
Justice: Iâ€™m actually working on Black Cotton posters. So for all the people who appreciate art and value substance please be on the look out for the The Black Cotton Posters. And Black Cotton Photos by Jahse. Please check out my mans work at http://www.jahse.com
Format: How do you view the fashion industry now compared to what you’re doing with your label?
Justice: I view them like an older brother would look at his little brother. You know? Like, yeah I see you following them cats, didnâ€™t I tell you to be yourself punk? (laughs). For real, they donâ€™t even compare to what Iâ€™m doing. And I think people are realizing that.
Format: Can you tell us a little bit about the inspirations behind the graphics and art on the T-Shirts and Sneaker Customizations you produce?
Justice: The Black Cotton designs are inspired from the historical events that took place in African American heritage to the derogatory images that once devalued our culture. For example the â€œOLYMPIC 1968â€ is a design dedicated to Tommie Smith and John Carlos 1st and 3rd in the 200 meter. Respectively, they showed their solidarity for the movement on the medal podium by raising a black fist. It was events like that which made us strong back then. I believe thatâ€™s the strength we need to take back our culture. The shoes are crafted to compliment the shirts.
Format: What new things can we look out for soon with your collection? Will there be more sneaker customizations as well?
Justice: I’d rather that be a surprise, to me, as well as the consumers. I design every day, I got tons of great ideas for TBCCII. Itâ€™s going to be fire, refreshing.
“My grandmother’s generation was children of slaves. My mother’s generation was taught heritage, love and to value family. My generation was told to get an education, College, College, College. See my daughterâ€™s generation is going to own her own business. The time is now, support!”
Format: Being that it is Black History Month, are you currently working on any special projects or planning to release any special products for the month of February?
Justice: XLI, yes sir. It’s so necessary!
Format: You’re label is still in its early years. Where do you see all of this going in the next three to five years?
Justice: Hopefully on top respectively sitting high above the competition like, we did it. We proved all of them wrong. We stuck together and supported one another.
Format: What is the ultimate goal for the Black Cotton Collection?
Justice: Hopefully, Iâ€™ll see people be smarter on how they spend their money. I want them to know that if we help ourselves we can rule and dominate. We can be powerful.
Format: Besides your website, where else can our readers find your products?
Justice: Right now exclusively only at M Couture, 2222 Summit St, Columbus, 43201 (614) 268-6536 Columbus, Ohio. But please checkout our MySpace page for future retail stores.
Format: Are there any shout outs or words of wisdom you’d like to leave our readers?
Justice: My grandmother’s generation was children of slaves. My mother’s generation was taught heritage, love and to value family. My generation was told to get an education, College, College, College. See my daughterâ€™s generation is going to own her own business. The time is now, support!